As a business owner, you want to get the maximum level of production from each of your employees. Unfortunately, you face significant limitations in your ability to motivate workers. While leaders can provide a stimulating work environment and influence employees, it is up to individual workers to respond.

Theories of Motivation

A number of motivational theories help explain the role of leaders in motivating workers. Two prominent theories are Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Frederick Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory. In general, these theories note that people are typically only motivated by things they either don't have or don't generally expect in a job. Therefore, providing basic pay, benefits and fair working conditions doesn't inherently mean that you will get a worker's best effort.

Role of Compensation

Compensation does play a role in motivation. However, simply paying a fair wage won't ensure optimum production, according to Maslow and Herzberg. Initially, an employee might get excited at a first job that pays $40,000. You may see strong performance during a honeymoon period. However, at some point, the worker will start to take the pay granted, and it will serve little motivational purpose. You can use pay to stimulate performance, but you will need to offer it in the form of incentives or recognition of accomplishments to motivate.

Employee Preferences

Motivation is simply the level and longevity of someone's intensity toward a task or project. As a leader, it is very difficult to provide a work environment that drives all employees in the same way. In social work, some employees are driven by their natural desires to help others and the sense of intrinsic value they experience. Other people may get into social work careers and feel less driven by these factors. In this case, burdens of modest income and challenging work may derail a leader's ability to get strong performance from an employee.

Varying Needs

Given the emphasis on needs as motivators in the theories of Maslow and Herzberg, you are naturally limited by the reality that people work with different needs perspectives. Someone just starting out may be motivated more by compensation because of a drive to make ends meet. A more established professional may need to feel a sense of belonging and esteem or pride in what he does. As a leader, offering fair compensation, a positive work culture and recognition of accomplishments may help cover the bases more effectively in motivating diverse workers.